Leaked Internal Documents Show U.N. Ignored Child Abuse

Anders Kompass, Director for Field Operations and Technical Cooperation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was asked to resign after leaking the report on child abuse by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. Credit: UN Photo/Violaine Martin
  • by Roger Hamilton-Martin (united nations)
  • Inter Press Service

Twenty-three soldiers from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea are implicated in the abuse, according to one of the reports.

The documents, released Friday by the organisation AIDS-Free World, implicate the U.N. in making no attempt to stop the ongoing crimes or protect children, and then scrambling to cover up inaction.

"The documents indicate a total failure of the U.N. to act on claims of sexual abuse, even when they know that U.N. involvement might be the surest route to stopping crimes and ensuring justice," said Paula Donovan, AIDS-Free World's co-director, in a statement.

Included in the leak is Anders Kompass' own account of the events, which shows his claim that he was asked to resign by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who was acting on a request from the head of U.N. Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous.

Another revelation is an email chain involving Joan Dubinsky, Director, U.N. Ethics Office; Susana Malcorra, Chef de Cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary-General; Carman Lapointe, Under Secretary General for Office for Internal Oversight Services; and Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the subject "CONFIDENTIAL -- Call from DPR Sweden regarding Anders Kompass", dated Apr. 7-10, 2015, detailing discussions across U.N. departments about Kompass' case.

AIDS-Free World suggested that the latest documents bring into question the independence of the U.N.'s Office for Internal Oversight Services and Ethics Office, which is supposed to operate at arm's length from the rest of the U.N. system, to ensure accountability.

The documents show that the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) had evidence of abuse by the soldiers on May 19, 2014. Then, during a June 18 interview, a 13-year-old boy said he couldn't number all the times he'd been forced to perform oral sex on soldiers but the most recent had been between June 8 and 12, 2014 - several weeks after the first UNICEF interview.

"By agreeing to be interviewed by the UN, the children expected the abuse to stop and the perpetrators to be arrested. When children report sexual abuse, adults must report it to the authorities. A child needs protection and, by definition, does not have the agency to decide whether to press charges. They deserved the protection they assumed they would receive once the UN knew of their abuse," AIDS-Free World said in a statement.

Edited by Kitty Stapp

© Inter Press Service (2015) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service